Background: The use of homeopathic medicine is poorly described and the frequency of combined allopathic and homeopathic prescriptions is unknown.
Objective: To analyse data on medicines, prescribers and patients for homeopathic prescriptions that are reimbursed by French national health insurance.
Methods: The French national health insurance databases (SNIIRAM) were used to analyse prescriptions of reimbursed homeopathic drugs or preparations in the overall French population, during the period July 2011-June 2012.
Results: A total of 6,705,420 patients received at least one reimbursement for a homeopathic preparation during the 12-month period, i.e. 10.2% of the overall population, with a predominance in females (68%) and a peak frequency observed in children aged 0-4 years (18%). About one third of patients had only one reimbursement, and one half of patients had three or more reimbursements. A total of 120,110 healthcare professionals (HCPs) prescribed at least one homeopathic drug or preparation. They represented 43.5% of the overall population of HCPs, nearly 95% of general practitioners, dermatologists and pediatricians, and 75% of midwives. Homeopathy accounted for 5% of the total number of drug units prescribed by HCPs. Allopathic medicines were coprescribed with 55% of homeopathic prescriptions.
Conclusion: Many HCPs occasionally prescribe reimbursed homeopathic preparations, representing however a small percentage of reimbursements compared to allopathic medicines. About 10% of the French population, particularly young children and women, received at least one homeopathic preparation during the year. In more than one half of cases, reimbursed homeopathic preparations are prescribed in combination with allopathic medicines.
Keywords: Allopathy; SNIIRAM.; database; drug utilization; health insurance; homeopathy.
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